Pearls from care clients are pure gold

The Jewish Chronicle - - Community - BY JEN­NIFER LIP­MAN

WHEN ANITA Wise­man was of­fered the op­por­tu­nity to per­form as a dancer in Amer­ica, she pon­dered it but de­clined.

In­stead, she gave up a glam­orous show­biz life — per­form­ing at cabarets, mu­sic halls and pres­ti­gious venues in­clud­ing the Royal Al­bert Hall and the Lon­don Pal­la­dium — to get mar­ried.

Now 100 and a reg­u­lar visi­tor to Redbridge Jewish Com­mu­nity Cen­tre, she says the sac­ri­fice was worth it. “My hus­band left me with three won­der­ful chil­dren and he used to tell me that the best thing he ever did was to marry me.”

For her, the im­por­tant thing was be­ing happy with her de­ci­sion. “You have got to be en­thu­si­as­tic or you can’t go for­ward in life. You have to love what you’re do­ing and I loved what I did.”

Her wise words are among those be­ing shared by Jewish Care clients and vol­un­teers as part of the Pearls of Wis­dom video cam­paign. Of­fi­cially launched in April, it has at­tracted close to 14,000 views and sup­port from celebri­ties in­clud­ing Sarah Brown, Jonathan Ross and Clau­dia Win­kle­man.

An­other backer is Lord Sugar, who be­lieves that “el­derly peo­ple have a lot to give”.

The cam­paign fea­tures 14 peo­ple from all walks of life with a col­lec­tive age of more than 1,270 years. Its aim is to raise aware­ness of the knowl­edge ac­cu­mu­lated by the el­derly, and how much they have to con­trib­ute.

“We wanted to chal­lenge the way that peo­ple think about their el­ders,” ex­plained the char­ity’s com­mu­ni­ca­tions and mar­ket­ing di­rec­tor, Jus­tine Har­ris.

“Eighty per cent of what we do at Jewish Care is with el­derly peo­ple. We have an age­ing pop­u­la­tion and we need to start in­clud­ing them in de­ci­sions.

“But we wanted to do it in a way that cel­e­brated their rich­ness, di­ver­sity and wis­dom.”

For­mer fur­rier Alec Cooper, 91, of­fers the “pearl” of al­ways see­ing the other per­son’s view­point.

“Stand up for your­self — don’t be so shy,” is the tip from one-time Sav­ile Row tai­lor Jean Nadler, 91.

Stella Red­wood, a 93-year-old for­mer ac­tress, took a prag­matic ap­proach to 21st-cen­tury re­la­tion­ships, ad­vis­ing the younger gen­er­a­tion to “have sex be­fore mar­riage — try it out”.

In the lat­est stage in the cam­paign, the pearls were ranked in or­der of im­por­tance by a panel of 1,000 mem­bers of the pub­lic. “Make the most of ev­ery day” came out on top.

It tal­lies with the view on life of Mrs Wise­man, who still has a pair of steel-toed dancing shoes from when she started out in the en­ter­tain­ment in­dus­try. “Young peo­ple must make more ef­fort with what they do and en­joy what they do,” she said. “If they don’t, they won’t be able to give 100 per cent.”

How­ever, her three great-grand­chil­dren were not a re­cep­tive au­di­ence. “It’s hope­less giv­ing ad­vice to young­sters,” she joked. “They’d say: ‘Don’t tell me what to do.’”

But even if they ig­nore her wis­dom now, things might change in time. An­other of her pearls is: “You never stop learn­ing.”

Anita Wise­man is a pic­ture of hap­pi­ness — and speaks from a wealth of ex­pe­ri­ence

Stella Red­wood is in favour of sex be­fore mar­riage

Jean Nadler: “Stand up for your­self”

Alec Cooper sees the views of oth­ers

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